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LA's HOPE is one of five HUD/DOL-funded projects awarded in late 2003 to demonstrate the feasibility of moving chronically homeless adults into permanent housing and helping them return to work. Its structure involved three public and nine nonprofit agencies. LA's HOPE was successful in its primary goals, housing 69 percent of ever-enrolled clients and engaging 84 percent in employment-related activities—54 percent in competitive employment. The project also sought to change the ways that the involved agencies worked together, but was less successful with these system change goals. The report discusses lessons learned, which closely resemble lessons from numerous other evaluations.
LA’s HOPE is one of five federal demonstration projects co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and awarded in late 2003 (often referred to as “HUD/DOL projects”). The other HUD/DOL demonstration projects are located in Boston, Massachusetts, Indianapolis, Indiana, San Francisco, California, and Portland, Oregon.
The Los Angeles partners in this demonstration are the Department of Mental Health (DMH—a Los Angeles County agency), the Community Development Department (CDD—a City of Los Angeles agency), and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA—a semi-autonomous public housing authority). The demonstration is able to house 76 clients at one time using Shelter Plus Care certificates administered through HACLA. These certificates represent 76 additional permanent supportive housing units that came as part of the federal grant but are renewable during future funding cycles in the same manner as for other Shelter Plus Care grants. LA’s HOPE had served 147 clients between its first intake in late winter 2003 and May 2007, the final month that could be included in the outcomes data to be analyzed for this evaluation.
Along with its four fellow federal housing and employment demonstration projects, LA’s HOPE has two types of goals. As a demonstration, LA’s HOPE has the very concrete goals of housing its clients and helping them get and keep employment. LA’s HOPE also has the broader goal of creating changed systems of support for people with serious mental illness (SMI) who have been chronically homeless, many of whom also have long-standing problems with substance abuse. The relevant public systems are housing, workforce development, and mental health, represented by the three partner agencies HACLA, CDD, and DMH. The latter two systems in turn have both policy and practice components—the city’s Community Development Department and some of its One-Stops (known locally as WorkSource Career Centers), and the county’s Department of Mental Health and some of the mental health agencies that have programs funded through the state’s “Integrated Services for Homeless Adults with Serious Mental Illness” program, known locally as AB 2034 after the state Assembly Bill that first funded the statewide program or simply as AB, which is how this report refers to these programs.
In fall 2005, CDD hired the Urban Institute to conduct an evaluation of LA’s HOPE, in compliance with federal requirements. At that time, evaluators conducted interviews with representatives of many parts of the LA’s HOPE network to establish “baseline” conditions for the process part of the evaluation. At “baseline the project had already been in operation for almost two years, so we assessed the situation as it existed at the time of the interviews and also gathered people’s perceptions and understandings of the startup and early implementation period. A second round of interviews was conducted in summer 2007 to assess the later functioning of LA’s HOPE and to gauge any potential changes in partner agencies that grew out of the LA’s HOPE experience. In addition, we analyzed data related to employment and housing outcomes for LA’s HOPE participants and two comparison groups.
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